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Last week in Congress/ How our representatives voted

Here are the votes of Western New York's four members of the House of Representatives and the state's two U.S. senators on major legislation in Congress last week. A "Y" means the member voted for the measure; an "N" means the member voted against the measure; an "A" means the member did not vote.

> HOUSE

Regulating Intra-Company Swaps Trades -- The House passed a bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, that would exempt inter-affiliate swaps of derivatives from margin and clearing regulations established by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Stivers said the legislation would prevent "internal transactions from being subject to duplicative regulations that could drive jobs overseas and increase costs for consumers." The vote on March 26, was 357 yeas to 36 nays.

Reps. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, Y; Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, Y; Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, Y; Tom Reed, R-Corning, Y.

Margin Requirements for Derivatives Trades -- The House passed the Business Risk Mitigation and Price Stabilization Act, sponsored by Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y. The bill would exempt companies using derivatives to hedge their risk for volatility in the price of raw materials from margin requirements for swaps trades under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Grimm said the bill would prevent regulators from "diverting working capital away from investment and expansion" by requiring companies to cover the expense of margin requirements. The vote on March 26 was 370 yeas to 24 nays.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, Y; Slaughter, Y; Reed, Y.

Small Companies and Securities Law -- The House concurred in the Senate amendment to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, originally sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher, R-Tenn. The bill would exempt publicly traded emerging growth companies with less than $1 billion of annual revenue from various securities law requirements, including audits of financial reports and certain executive compensation reporting. Fincher said "this bill puts the focus on the private sector, capitalism, and the free market, providing the jump-start our Nation's entrepreneurs and small businesses need to grow and create jobs."

An opponent, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said "the deregulation measures in this bill could actually raise the cost of capital by harming investors and impairing markets, making it harder for legitimate companies to thrive."

The vote on March 27 was 380 yeas to 41 nays.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, Y; Slaughter, Y; Reed, Y.

Aid for Homeless Veterans -- The House passed the Homes for Heroes Act, sponsored by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas. The legislation would establish a Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development charged with helping homeless veterans make use of federal housing programs.

Green said the bill will help "in eliminating and abolishing homelessness among our veterans," who make up 16 percent of the population of homeless adults despite being just 8 percent of the American adult population.

The vote on March 27 was 414 yeas to 5 nays.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, Y; Slaughter, Y; Reed, Y.

Analog Baby Monitors -- The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., to the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act. The amendment would have ordered the FCC to require a warning label informing families that video and audio captured by an analog baby monitor could be viewed or heard by individuals outside a family's home.

Crowley said the requirement would ensure that "parents can make fully informed decisions about the potential risk of their purchases." An opponent, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said the requirement "may cause some consumer confusion because you'd treat all analog monitors, perhaps, as unsafe and digital monitors as safe, even if that's not true for a particular brand of baby monitor."

The vote on March 27 was 196 yeas to 219 nays.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, Y; Slaughter, Y; Reed, N.

Political Programming Sponsors -- The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., to the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act. The amendment would have ordered the FCC to require a disclosure of the identity of donors who have contributed a total of $10,000 or more to a sponsor of political programming in one election reporting cycle.

Eshoo said the requirement would uphold democratic principles by securing "disclosure in political reporting for the voting public." An opponent, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said the amendment was too loosely written and addressed an issue that was under the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission.

The vote on March 27 was 179 yeas to 238 nays.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, N; Slaughter, Y; Reed, N.

Rural Broadband Access -- The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. William L. Owens, D-N.Y., to the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act. The amendment indicated that the underlying legislation was not intended to impede the FCC from implementing rules to ensure broadband access in rural areas.

Owens said the amendment sought to "ensure that the development of much-needed broadband in rural areas, like in my congressional district in upstate New York, is not held up by the increased requirements imposed by the FCC under this bill."

An opponent, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said the amendment "reduces transparency, accountability, and access for the very people we're trying to help" by expanding broadband for rural residents.

The vote on March 27 was 194 yeas to 222 nays.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, Y; Slaughter, Y; Reed, N.

FCC Transparency -- The House passed the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act, sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. The bill would establish requirements for the FCC to provide for public comment periods for proposed rules, conduct cost-benefit analyses for rules that have an economic impact of at least $100 million and increase public disclosure of proceedings. Walden said the requirements would ensure "good processes and procedures going forward" at the FCC by improving openness and accountability.

An opponent, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., said the bill would impose "new onerous process requirements which will result in an agency that's less effective, less agile, and less transparent."

The vote on March 27 was 247 yeas to 174 nays.

Higgins, N; Hochul, Y; Slaughter, N; Reed, Y.

Democratic Budget Alternative -- The House rejected a substitute, sponsored by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., to a resolution to establish a fiscal 2013 budget and outline budgetary levels for fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2022.

The Democratic alternative to the Republican-crafted plan would have preserved current funding levels for Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, increased spending on education, job training and infrastructure projects, and increased corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy.

Cleaver said the amendment "will address the deficit while protecting important safety net programs needed by our communities" to promote economic growth and the availability of health care.

An opponent, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said the amendment would increase spending by $5.3 trillion over the next decade and raise taxes by more than $6 trillion, failing to address the debt problem without helping the economy.

The vote on March 28 was 107 yeas to 314 nays.

Higgins, N; Hochul, N; Slaughter, Y; Reed, N.

Extending Transportation Funding -- The House passed the Surface Transportation Extension Act, sponsored by Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla. The bill would continue funding for highway, transit and other transportation programs for 90 days while broader legislation was worked out. Mica said the legislation would "put people who want jobs in this country back to work without earmarks and without tax increases."

An opponent, Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said that by investing too little in the nation's infrastructure, the bill was "leaving America stuck in a ditch and putting American businesses at a disadvantage with companies around the world."

The vote on March 29 was 266 yeas to 158 nays.

Higgins, N; Hochul, Y; Slaughter, N; Reed, Y.

Democratic Budget Proposal -- The House rejected a substitute amendment sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to a resolution. The amendment would have increased taxes on the wealthy, set out a plan to cut the deficit to under 3 percent of GDP by 2015, and funded infrastructure programs. Van Hollen said the budget plan would "take a balanced approach, cut spending and also cut the loopholes for special interests" in the tax code, and support the economy by investing in infrastructure and other job creation measures.

An opponent, House Speaker John Boehner, said the amendment would "kick the can down the road as if no one knows that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are going broke" and "raise taxes on the American people once again."

The vote on March 29 was 163 yeas to 262 nays.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, N; Slaughter, Y; Reed, N.

Republican Budget Proposal -- The House passed a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would establish a fiscal 2013 budget and outline budgetary levels for fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2022. Ryan said the bill "cuts $5.3 trillion in spending from the President's budget" and "puts our budget on the path to balance and a path to completely pay off our debt" while encouraging economic growth by reforming Medicare and other programs.

An opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said the bill's "tax breaks for the very wealthy and the tax breaks for special interests come at the expense of middle-income taxpayers, at the expense of seniors, and at the expense of essential investments to keep America strong." The vote on March 29 was 228 yeas to 191 nays.

Higgins, N; Hochul, N; Slaughter, N; Reed, Y.

> SENATE

Subsidies for Big Oil -- The Senate refused to cut off debate and move to a vote on the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act, sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. The so-called cloture vote was designed to advance the legislation to a floor vote, and required a three-fifths majority to succeed. The bill would have canceled several tax incentives for the five largest U.S. oil and natural gas companies. Menendez said that by raising $24 billion in revenue over the next decade, the bill would reduce the deficit and fund the extension of clean energy tax incentives.

An opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said the bill "won't do a thing to lower the price of gas at the pump."

The vote on March 29 was 51 yeas to 47 nays, with a three-fifths majority required for approval.

Sens. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Y; Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Y

Information for this column is supplied by Targeted News Service.